Romania is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with 14 per cent of the population living below the poverty line.
The government has few resources to spare for children with deafblindness. Currently only three per cent of the deafblind population receives any help.
When Sense International (Romania) started in 1999 deafblindness was unrecognised and there were no services. Children were often misdiagnosed and hidden away in bleak institutions.
Since then, there has been gradual but impressive progress. Deafblindness was legally recognised in Romania in 2006 thanks to Sense International’s campaigning. As a result of this, much-needed services for deafblind people are growing.
Due to the advocacy efforts of Sense International (Romania), deafblindness was legally recognised in Romania in 2006 as a distinct disability and appropriate services for deafblind people have been established.
“For the courage they have given to me and for all the hopes that they infused in my heart I would like to thank Sense International (Romania).” - Mother of a child with deafblindness
It is vital that children with deafblindess are recognised, assessed and receive specialist help as early as possible.
- Sense International played a key role in setting up a neonatal screening programme at four maternity units. Since then, over 100,000 babies have had hearing screenings and over 17,000 have had visual testing.
- These newborns can now receive help at one of four Early Intervention Centres, where so far, 234 children have been supported. There they receive a specialist rehabilitation programme from a range of skilled professionals.
- We have trained 25 specialists in education, health and social services in the field of early intervention.
- We have coordinated the development of an Early Intervention Curriculum for the rehabilitation of deafblind children, which has recently been approved and endorsed by the Ministry of National Education.
Sense International offers children with deafblindness the chance to be educated, with trained teachers using specialist methods and techniques.
- We convinced the Romanian government that children with deafblindness can be educated - by initially setting up two Deafblind Special Education Units and demonstrating effective teaching methods.
- We ensured that education legislation in Romania makes provision for children with deafblindness – and as a result 42 special education units for children with deafblindness have now been established.
- We have trained more than 200 teachers, ten of whom have become National Trainers, who can pass on their expertise to others.
- Embedded the education of children with deafblindness in the Romanian national system of education.
- Ensured high quality education for over 500 children with deafblindness in Romania in 15 schools.
- Coordinated the development of a national curriculum for children with Deafblindness and Multisensory Impairments.
- We have published the Callier-Azusa scales, an internationally recognised method of assessing children with deafblindness, so that the method can be used by teachers in Romania.
Responding to the concerns of parents and teachers about the future of their children after leaving the education system, we have developed eight vocational centres - pilot workshops - where young people can learn a trade in a safe environment:
- Established eight vocational centres (five for typography, one in a agrictultural greenhouse and one in a factory).
- Supported 173 young people with deafblindness to learn a marketable trade.
- Trained 63 vocational teachers in the field of deafblindness.
- Supported two partner schools to provide state authorised courses in the field of digital typography.
Campaigning and advocacy
As well as lobbying the Romanian government to give full legal recognition to deafblindness in 2006, we were also able to persuade them that children with deafblindness could - and should - be educated:
- We guaranteed through continued advocacy efforts, that a recent Education Act stipulates that children with deafblindness / MSI children should be taught in classes of no more than four pupils.
- We have coordinated the development of the National Education Curriculum for deafblind / MSI learners.
Developed www.sensabilitate.ro, the first and only website in Romania accessible for people with multisensory impairments. This offers a pool of resources for people with deafblindness, parents and teachers and a platform for the advocacy efforts of the organisation.
- Continue to promote the rights of people with deafblindness through advocacy activities involving local and national authorities.
- We will involve teachers and specialists working with children with deafblindness, parents, adults and young people with deafblindness with the aim of developing the Romanian Network for Deafblindness – an informal network to promote and fight for the rights of children and adults with deafblindness.
- Take the necessary steps for the young people with deafblindness and multisensory impairments from the vocational workshops to access employment, by creating links between schools, young people and employers.
"The Early Intervention Support Centre developed by Sense International (Romania) has been like a ray of sunshine for us.
The specialists there helped us a lot, but most importantly, made us look at our child differently: he is capable, beautiful, surprising, curious, attentive, photogenic… It is wonderful, a story is written there, and my child is the main character!" - Elena, Mother of Teo.
Sense International (Romania)
Aleea Romancierilor nr 2, bloc Z16, ap. 2
Tel: +40 311 075 236
Fax: +40 214 139 040
First published: Thursday 27 June 2013
Last updated: Monday 15 January 2018